Early experience and lessons learned in a new minimally invasive esophagectomy program

Benedetto Mungo, Anne O Lidor, Miloslawa Stem, Daniela Molena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: Minimally invasive esophagectomy (MIE) is gaining increasing popularity in the treatment of esophageal cancer. In fact, while surgical and oncologic outcomes are not inferior to those achieved through a traditional open approach, patients undergoing MIE benefit from shorter length of stay, lesser pain and prompter recovery. This technique is, however, highly challenging, and the development of a MIE program, even in the setting of a tertiary center, requires time and progressive honing of surgical skills. Methods: We use a minimally invasive Ivor Lewis approach. The abdominal phase of the procedure includes complete celiac lymphadenectomy and tubularization of the stomach, which will constitute the neo-esophagus. The video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery portion of the operation takes place in left lateral decubitus and allows for optimal thoracic lymphadenectomy and anastomosis. Results: From October 2011 to January 2015, we treated 52 patients with the above-described procedure. The evolution of our anastomotic technique included a first group of circular stapled anastomosis with Orvil™ and 3.5-mm EEA™ (n = 16 patients), subsequently abandoned in favor of a linear anastomosis (n = 12), before going back to the Orvil™ coupled with 4.8-mm EEA™ (n = 22) in more recent times. There were also an additional two anastomoses that did not fall under any of these categories. We experienced two postoperative deaths. The overall leak rate was 14 %, but fell down to 4 % in the last group. Median LOS was 9 days. Lymph node retrieval was adequate throughout the whole series. Conclusions: Developing a MIE program requires a significant learning curve before the results plateau. Only once a technique of choice is refined and mastered, the advantages granted by MIE become apparent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1692-1698
Number of pages7
JournalSurgical endoscopy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Barrett’s esophagus
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Esophagectomy
  • Laparoscopy
  • Thoracoscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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